Apr 10, 2007 8:43am
Re: Lost in the ozone
I never get tired of telling my Grateful Dead origins story. I could probably find an earlier post and just paste it but it's more fun to write about it again.
It's around 1978 or so, I'm 14, and I've just discovered music in the past couple years and got hooked first on the Beatles. Bought all the albums. Pretty good springboard, I guess. But y'know, I know i'll never get to see 'em live. Around this time and age there's nothing cooler than going to a REAL concert, so I start looking around at current bands of the day. What are my choices? Head banger bands like Aerosmith, Foreigner, Journey....My parents are into Fleetwood Mac, so forget them.
Enter my best friend's older brother who's all hippied out (at least a '70s version)...says to us one day "who do you little idiots listen to?",...and I mumbled something about Foreigner, and he laughs and says "listen to this--you'll thank me later", and he puts on AMERICAN BEAUTY. I think the first tune I heard was Friend of the Devil--at least that's the one that stuck out--and I loved it.
I start scraping my lawn mower and snow shoveling money together...Europe '72, Live Dead, Skull&Roses, all on vinyl!!!! quickly follow....by the time 1979 rolls around I've even found crazy stuff on trips into the city with my friend and his brother to Greenwich village music stores, and I've picked up the Farewell to Winterland 3-album set --anyone remember this--w/Jerry on the cover holding up a fat glass of Red Wine and smiling ear to ear???--anyway, I'm constantly waiting for the bus, just ready to jump out of my skin to get onboard & see this band live.
I had no idea Nassau Coliseum was a regular gig. Comes January of '79 and a week before the shows, I get wind of it and my Mom (thanks, Mom!) agrees to chaperone us if we can get tickets (my friend and I were not allowed to go alone--who could blame her?). I think we got tix thru Ticketmaster, which you vould do back then w/relative ease...and we're off.
January 11, 1979. Donna & Keith are still in the band. We enter the Coliseum and i'm both terrified and thrilled beyond belief (I think my Mom was definitely terrified)....heads in colored shirts and skirts twirling thru the hallways...the smell of pot everywhere when not overwhelmed by patchouli....angry looking cops outside on horses....a crush of people like i'd never seen before--everything whirling at me at once....bumping like a pinball in the halls off of bodies and water fountains....a hippie chick runs out of the crowd, points at me and my friend and shouts "Look! Little Dead Heads!!!" (I'm not little, I pouted to my little self).
We find our seats and the lights dim after what seems like an eternity of waiting...a roar goes up, and i'm no longer scared, i'm tingling with anticipation...Sugaree...I Know this song!!!! I'm singing and watching the frenzied dancers all around...and then I remember the EXACT moment when it really clicked--the Bus had come by, but I hadn't really GOT ON until "Jack Straw."
I knew the E-'72 version. It's great.
But this is 1979, and I didn't know they could play the song like THIS. I didn't know they could push the jam to limits that went beyond what my brain thought music could do. I didn't know anyone could DO THAT. I light went on, my body was infused with a glow, an internal heat, and it's dimmed with time, for sure, but it has never been extinguished. I doubt it ever will.
The live show experience ended w/a not very good show (but a great time) in Highgate, VT. summer of 1994. Now I live in Vermont, and that's somehow fitting, because it reminds me that the music never really has to stop, as long as you're alive to hear it and cherish it.
Sorry for getting a little "verklempt". Talk amongst yourselves....here's a topic: Row Jimmy. Just who IS Jimmy...and when IS he gonna get there?